Champions League: Which Premier League Team Is Best Prepared to Reach the Final in Kiev?

For the first time in history, the Champions League knockout stages will include five teams from the English Premier League.

Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City and Tottenham Horspur all progressed as group winners while Antonio Conte's Chelsea was runner-up to Roma on goal difference. Opponents for the last-16 stage will be revealed on December 11 when the draw is be made in Nyon, Switzerland.

UEFA regulations mean no English teams will face each other in the first round of knockouts, so which Premier League club is best prepared to reach the final in Kiev on May 26? Here, Newsweek takes a look:


Chelsea's failure to take its chances against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday (December 5) could have dire consequences for Conte's team. Roma's victory at the Stadio Olimpico saw it leapfrog Chelsea as group winner and leave the Blues potentially facing Barcelona or Paris Saint-Germain in the last-16. The quarterfinal may even prove to be too far for Chelsea this year.

Conte's main problem will be keeping his slim squad fit and injury-free to play three games a week until the end of May. Chelsea's success in the Premier League last season came through a consistency in the first-team, made easier by its absence from Europe. An injury to a key player, like Alvaro Morata, could spell the end of any chance of going the distance this year.


At times, Liverpool can be the most exciting team in the Premier League to watch when going forward. With Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in Jurgen Klopp's forward line, Liverpool is one of the most dynamic and lethal opponents in the Champions League knockout stages. The thought of facing that quartet may mean Klopp is right when he suggests no team would want to face them.

But then the prospect of taking on the Liverpool defense may make a last-16 draw more appealing. It has certainly improved in recent weeks, with Liverpool unbeaten in 11 games and not conceding in five of them. Yet a Liverpool defense that includes midfielders Georginio Wijnaldum and Emre Can, as it did against Brighton on Saturday, would be attractive to most of Europe's attackers.

Clubs will also be well aware of the implosion in Sevilla last month, when Liverpool let a 3-0 half-time lead slip to take just a point back to England. Liverpool could be the most entertaining watch for fans in the last-16, but whether that's a good thing for Klopp or not remains to be seen.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola
Jose Mourinho, left, and Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, April 27. Laurence Griffiths/Getty

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola's desire to dominate in England and abroad will reportedly see him push Manchester City to sign Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window. Until Wednesday, City was the only team with a perfect record in this years' competition and is among the favorites with Guardiola, two-time winner as Barcelona coach, at the helm. And those odds could be shortened further before February.

City can take an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League if it beats second-placed Manchester United on Sunday. Then, it will be eight weeks before Guardiola's team competes again in the Champions League, by which time City's lead at the top of the table could allow him to rest players for Europe.

Even if that is not the case, City has the strongest squad out of all the Premier League teams to be able to cope with more than one competition. Bernardo Silva, Monaco's most creative player last season, has struggled to even feature much for City this season.

Manchester United

While Jose Mourinho will be desperate to add a third Champions League winners' medal to his personal collection, catching Guardiola's City in the Premier League may be his priority. Returning United to Europe's top table may be enough for Mourinho this season, but he will want to make sure he is the first manager since Sir Alex Ferguson to take the league title back to Old Trafford.

But Mourinho's prediction is that United will get stronger in the second half of the season, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic reaches full fitness and all his best players are available. United has shown its power this season by scoring four goals on eight different occasions. And against Arsenal on Saturday, Mourinho's team showed a clinical edge that will be crucial to reaching the latter stages of the Champions League.

Tottenham Hotspur

In the Premier League this season, Mauricio Pochettino's team has slightly underwhelmed. Tottenham is sixth in the table and a massive 18 points short of league leader Manchester City after taking just two points from a possible 12 in its last four domestic games.

But in Europe, it's a different story. Although Tottenham has won just four of its last eight games, three of those have come in the Champions League, including beating Real Madrid at Wembley Stadium and Borussia Dortmund away. Fatigue and a lack of depth in Pochettino's squad may harm Spurs, but the thrill of a Champions League run may push the players further. The results against Real and Dortmund will have been noticed across Europe: Tottenham is not to be taken lightly.